Senate Bill (SB) 743 Implementation

This web page has information about Caltrans SB 743-related work, and helpful resources for SB 743 implementation around the state.

About SB 743

SB 743 was signed in 2013, with the intent to “more appropriately balance the needs of congestion management with statewide goals related to infill development, promotion of public health through active transportation, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.” When implemented, “traffic congestion shall not be considered a significant impact on the environment” within California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) transportation analysis.

SB 743 requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to identify new metrics for identifying and mitigating transportation impacts within CEQA. For land use projects, OPR identified Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per capita, VMT per employee, and net VMT as new metrics for transportation analysis. For transportation projects, lead agencies for roadway capacity projects have discretion, consistent with CEQA and planning requirements, to choose which metric to use to evaluate transportation impacts.

Regulatory changes to the CEQA Guidelines that implement SB 743 were approved on December 28, 2018.  OPR released a December 2018 Technical Advisory that contains recommendations regarding assessment of VMT, thresholds of significance, and mitigation measures.  Statewide implementation occurred on July 1, 2020.

SB 743 affects important parts of Caltrans work:

  • Review of local land use projects' potential impact to the State Highway System through our Local Development-Intergovernmental Review program
  • Transportation analysis including induced vehicle travel demand analysis for projects on the State Highway System.

Caltrans is developing guidance documents to implement vehicle miles traveled in projects on the State Highway System, and our review of local development projects. We are evolving our transportation analysis to be more multimodal—part of implementing our Strategic Management Plan 2015-2020.

Implementation Documents

Caltrans SB 743 implementation documents will be posted as draft and final documents are completed. Contact sb743.implementation@dot.ca.gov to join Caltrans SB 743 listserv and receive notifications when draft and final documents are posted.

Implementation Webinars

Caltrans discusses the guidance documents and SB 743 implementation work in a series of webinars.

  • In a November 8, 2019 webinar the need to reduce vehicle miles traveled to meet state air quality requirements and the three guidance documents are discussed. The webinar's power point (PDF) is also available.
  • In November 2019, Caltrans Planning Horizons hosted a discussion by City of Los Angeles and City of San Jose about their early adoption of VMT thresholds. Cities and counties around California may be interested in hearing about the impetus for and experience of creating the VMT thresholds.

Caltrans has chosen to use VMT as the CEQA transportation metric for projects on the state highway system. Caltrans is working with partners to develop guidance that provides:

  • Process for a prospective phase‐in that does not require any re‐analysis and strives to ensure no delay for current projects – such as the programmed SB 1 and upcoming Local Measure projects.
  • Clarification of the type of projects requiring detailed VMT analysis.
  • Clarification on acceptable mitigation such as, but not limited to, VMT banking, regional investment program, and exchange mechanisms.
  • Quantification tools for VMT, including induced travel and methodology for VMT based analyses.
  • Clarification on safety and operations analysis, including tools to assess safety impacts, which could include use of LOS as an input for the safety analysis.

For land use projects, VMT is now the metric used within CEQA transportation analysis. Caltrans updated our CEQA land use project review process to reflect SB 743 and focus on VMT. Caltrans two new guidance documents are posted above for use: the VMT-Focused TISG, and the Interim Guidance on Local Development-Intergovernmental Review (LD-IGR) Safety Analysis.

Cities and counties are implementing VMT in CEQA for land use projects (PDF) through either a formal adoption process or a case-by-case basis.

Strategies that support mode shift, higher vehicle occupancy, shorter average vehicle trips, and transportation demand management can mitigate VMT. VMT impacts should be mitigated to the maximum extent possible. Current mitigation resources are highlighted in SB 743: Mitigation and VMT Reduction (PDF).

Caltrans' California Statewide Travel Demand Model (CSTDM) VMT data is available for use when calculating residential and office projects' VMT. Contact Steven.Vo@dot.ca.gov if you have questions about the CSTDM data.

Caltrans Division of Research and Innovation (DRISI) supports SB 743-related research efforts.

  • Transportation Research Board

    "In 2015, Caltrans sponsored a review of applicable induced vehicle travel research that could inform transportation analysis guidance in response to new laws in California such as Senate Bill 743, which prohibits the use of vehicle level of service and similar measures as the sole basis for determining significant transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act." (Source: Transportation Research Board). Marc Birnbaum, Caltrans Traffic Operations (retired), co-authored the Transportation Research Board peer-reviewed paper: "Closing the Induced Vehicle Travel Gap Between Research and Practice" - January 1, 2017

  • U.S. DOT Volpe Center

    "Evolving Use of Level of Service Metrics in Transportation Analysis" includes a California case study on SB 743.

  • U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration

    November 30, 2017 Webinar highlights the case study; click on the California 0:31:23 link.

  • The San Diego Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) has prepared updated regional Transportation Impact Study Guidelines to incorporate SB 743. The May 2019 document titled "Guidelines for Transportation Impact Studies in the San Diego Region" is available on ITE San Diego's TCM Task Force page.
  • SB 743 Case Studies: The Urban Sustainability Accelerator at Portland State University created five case studies on how to apply the vehicle miles traveled metric to a highway project and three land use projects.
  • Evaluation of Sketch-Level Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Quantification Tools: National Center for Sustainable Transportation "researchers compare and evaluate VMT estimation tools across a sample of land use projects. They compare the results from different tools for each project, consider the applicability of methods in particular contexts and for different types of projects, and assess data needs, relative ease of use, and other practical considerations." The research is not done within a CEQA context, but it is interesting to review the use of the VMT estimation tools.

For more information on Caltrans SB 743 implementation efforts or to receive updates on Caltrans SB 743 work via our listserv, contact sb743.implementation@dot.ca.gov

Key Documents and Links

VMT Technical Advisory: How to evaluate transportation impacts

OPR Technical Advisory

How to evaluate transportation impacts - OPR (PDF)

CEQA Guidelnes Implementing SB 743

CEQA Guidelnes

Implementing SB 743 (pp. 11-12) - CA Natural Resources Agcy.  (PDF)

Connecting State Climate Goals and VMT

CARB 2017 Scoping Plan

Connecting State Climate Goals and VMT

Induced Travel Calculator

Induced Travel Calculator

UC Davis - National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Governor's Office of Planning and Research

OPR SB 743 Page

Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR)

SB 743 - Latest Updates

Caltrans New Guidance Documents! 

New guidance documents are available for projects on the State Highway System (SHS):

A Q&A: Caltrans TAF and TAC (PDF) document was compiled based upon input received during the draft documents’ informal review

The Expert Panel Report (PDF) informed the TAF’s induced travel methodology

Caltrans Policy Memo (PDF) communicates to Caltrans staff regarding analysis of transportation impacts under CEQA for projects on the SHS